This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
the beginning of human history, people have used oils from seeds and nuts. Most
of the time these oils are used as food, especially in cooking. But sometimes
they have other uses. For example, oils are used in paint and in cleaning
products like soap.
is separated from seeds by using pressure. A machine called a press is often
used. Sometimes it is surprising to learn how much oil the seeds contain.
Sesame, cotton and sunflower seeds, for example, all contain at least fifty
is an important seed around the world, but it is only twenty percent oil. So
chemicals are needed to release oil from soybeans.
first step in pressing the oil from seeds is to crush the seeds between two
stones. The crushed seeds are then put into a cloth bag and the bag is hung up.
Some of the oil will flow out of the bag and can be collected.
some oil will remain in the crushed seeds inside the bag. The easiest way to
get the rest of the oil out is to place heavy rocks on the crushed material.
method is to place several cloth bags on top of each other in a box. Then a
long wooden stick is used to slowly push a heavy cover down on the bags. Great
pressure is produced in this way. Much greater pressure can be produced by
using a machine, a hydraulic jack. The greater the pressure, the more oil will
Oil can also be collected with small,
hand-operated machines. Small presses are important in areas where electricity
or gasoline cannot be used. They are also a good way to test if a local market
for oil exists.
batch presses can be made of local materials. Their cost is low. They are not
difficult to operate. And they are easy to repair. The small presses produce
good quality oil. But the work is hard. And getting all the oil from the seeds
can be difficult.
there is a large supply of seeds, then hand-operated presses may not be enough
to support a business. Large, powered presses that can operate all day are
Guides to activities like
removing oil from seeds and nuts are available from the organization
EnterpriseWorks/VITA. These publications can be ordered for a charge at
enterpriseworks.org. Click on the News & Resources link.
and archives of our reports can be found at voaspecialenglish.com. You can also
follow us on Twitter and YouTube at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.